With the excitement of the opening ceremonies fading, ITB Berlin today got down to business, with 25,000 trade visitors expected to pass through the turnstiles.
Naturally the 10,000 exhibitors on site were keen to get their latest messages across.
Poland – as partner country for the 45th annual exhibition – topped many visitors lists of must see attractions, with the country reporting a strong recovery in visitor numbers over the previous year.
After falls in 2008/9, the eastern European destination recorded a 4.5 per cent increase in visitors in 2010 and was on course to receive approximately 12.4 million over the year.
When finalised, the figures are expected to show Poland maintained its position in 19th place in the World Tourism Organisation’s world ranking.
The World Travel & Tourism Council now expects the tourism to account directly for two per cent of Poland’s GDP in 2011.
Poland has been presenting its offering as partner country of ITB 2011
Still in Europe, and Spain has been benefiting from the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
The country has struggled in recent years to compete on price with beach destinations in Egypt’s Red Sea and Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast, which are not only cheaper but also not much farther away from key source markets like Germany and the UK.
However, following the unrest sweeping the Arab world since early January, tourists have been changing their travel plans and Spain, especially the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco, has been one of the main beneficiaries.
The country received 2.7 million foreign tourist arrivals in January, a 4.7 per cent increase over the same month last year and the first rise in 18 months, according to recent media reports.
“The countries that have benefited most from the situation in Egypt are Spain, with bookings to the Balearics up 30 per cent year-on-year, and Greece, up 20 per cent,” the head of Europe’s second-largest tour operator Thomas Cook, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, explained.
Egypt is hoping ITB Berlin will mark the beginning of its fight back from recent political strife
However, Egypt is unlikely to go quietly, with reports suggesting resorts on the Red Sea are already on the rebound.
The German Travel Association said sales in its market are recovering quickly for both Egypt and Tunisia while, in the UK, Egypt specialist tour operator Longwood Holidays says that Taba Heights remains its top-selling destination.
“We are pleased to report an increase in bookings, after the unrest in Cairo and are offering trip deals to El Gouna and Taba Heights for travellers to get some much needed sunshine,” said Tara Bradberry of Longwood Holidays.
Olympic Holidays has also introduced the destination to its Red Sea programme.
In the Caribbean, tourism in Jamaica has remained robust despite economic turmoil elsewhere. Visitor numbers were up by 8.9 per cent between October and December 2010, when compared to the previous year, with receipts also increasing 5.4 per cent over the period.
Tourism in the Caribbean destination has been expanding over consecutive quarters thanks to both a rise in air passenger arrivals and cruise passenger arrivals, the latter growing in double digits.
This year is also expected to be a strong one for tourism and infrastructure is being improved, with a focus on the new port in Falmouth on the north coast of the island.
Europcar – which was recognised by the World Travel Awards as the World’s Leading Car Hire in 2010 – has been enjoying the increased prestige
Further north a move by United States president Barack Obama and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper to allow freer mobility of travellers and goods between the two countries has been warmly welcomed at ITB Berlin.
Signed in early February, the move has been welcomed by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).
TIAC president David Goldstein said: “A smarter, more open approach to moving travellers across our shared border would be a significant step towards bringing back millions of American travellers and fuelling Canada’s economic recovery.
“Tourism is one of Canada’s key exports industries, and one with incredible upside.”
According to TIAC, 83 per cent of international tourists who come to Canada come from the USA. A more coherent border-crossing system between the countries will create greater opportunities for leisure, business and meetings travel from the US, and will result in tens of thousands of new jobs, the body argued.
Finally, in Asia Pacific, Sri Lanka has outlined ambitious plans for its tourism recovery following the end of a decades old civil war in the country, with 700,000 visitors sought in 2011.
A full programme of promotional activities and events is in the pipeline for the next couple of years in order to reach a 2009 strategic target of attracting 1.5 million tourist arrivals per year by 2016.
The island also hopes to boost yield per tourist from US$80 to US$130.